SKETCHES IN WESTERN AUSTRALIA.
AN AUSTRALIAN PARSONAGE;
THE SETTLER AND THE SAVAGE
By Mrs. EDWARD MILLETT.
EDWARD STANFORD, 6 & 7, CHARING CROSS, S.W.
Large in extent and varied in character as is that great district which is called by the general title of Western Australia, little has hitherto been known of it in England, and little interest has been felt either in its history or its progress. The intending emigrant who thinks of turning his steps towards New South Wales, or Victoria, or Tasmania, or Queensland, finds no lack of guide-books and histories by which to form an opinion of the merits or disadvantages of these rival colonies, and it is easy for him to decide which of these divisions of the great Austral continent appears to present the most favourable prospects in his own especial case. But with Western Australia, or, to use the name by which it is more generally known, Swan River, matters are altogether different. Until lately, no guide-book at all, of any later date than twenty years ago, was in existence, and all the information which could be of service to an emigrant was buried in parliamentary blue books and official pamphlets. The report of evidence which had been given before a Committee of the House of Commons to inquire into the merits of Western Australia as a convict settlement was the chief source from which we were able to learn anything respecting the colony when, eight years ago, we first meditated a sojourn in the Southern hemisphere. The peculiar isolation of Swan River, which is imparted to it by its physical geography, has also cut it off in great measure from free communication with its nearer neighbours, so that, even in the other portions of Australia itself, very misty ideas are entertained with regard to it. The following pages do not pretend to the character of either a guide or a history of the colony. They are simply, as their name implies, sketches of the writer's own experiences as a chaplain's wife during five years spent in a country where English colonists of a past generation were disappointed because their ignorance respecting it had induced them to cherish hopes which could never attain fruition, but where modern emigrants may find substantial good if they will confine their expectations to what the land is really capable of producing. The emigrant who desires to meet with minute and technical information will find that the blue book, containing the records of the census of the colony of Western Australia taken in 1870, together with observations upon the results of the census, published by the Registrar-General, Mr. Knight, will be of much service to him. He would also find it advantageous to furnish himself with a little history of Western Australia compiled by the son of the Registrar, Mr. William Knight, containing tables of statistics upon every point on which the intending emigrant or settler could wish to be advised. Both these works can be obtained by post if ordered from the publisher, Mr. Pether, Perth, Western Australia. The writer ventures to hope that, as she has most carefully avoided saying anything in her pages which could be a cause of pain to any individual amongst her former neighbours and friends in the colony—a task not always easy in a country of such scanty population that everyone within it is known to everyone else either personally or by name—some little measure of good-will and kindly feeling towards herself may remain in the reader's mind when he has come to the conclusion of her unpretending though honest and truthful records. In the very few instances in which reference has been made to the official actions of public functionaries, the writer would wish it to be understood that she gives her husband's opinions as well as her own, as he, from his position as a chaplain upon the Government Establishment, had a fair opportunity of observing in what manner colonial affairs were transacted, and what influences were sometimes brought to bear upon them.
Journey through bush to Barladong—Road party—Sympathy of our driver—Runaway sailors—Singular sound of wind passing through shea-oak trees—Crossing Darling Range at Green Mount—Extensive and beautiful view—Inn at Mahogany Creek—Australian magpie—Burning of team of horses and load of sandalwood by bush-fire—"V" hut in bush—Grass-trees or Xanthorrhoeas—Inn at the Lakes—Remain for the night—Sofa bedsteads—Journey resumed—Early start—Great heat—Paper bark-trees—Little inn among zamias, and red gum-trees—Kangaroo dogs and kangaroo breakfast—First sheep seen feeding forty miles from Perth—Poisonous plants—Change in character of forest—White gum-trees—Curious lizard —Descent of Cut Hill—View of Mount Bakewell—Arrive at Barladong—Description of Church and Parsonage—Deaf Clerk's welcome—Early call for sick visiting—Melancholy noise of curlews in the middle of the night. … Page 38
Drawbacks to progress of West Australia—"Dangerous" country—Mr. Drummond identifies poisonous plants—Land when infested by them useless for pastoral purposes—Evil partly remediable—Intelligence required in shepherds—Impossibility on many roads of employing bullock-wagons—Scattered nature of cultivated districts—Narrow news of things in general—Difficulty of introducing tramways or railroads—Grain-bearing eastern districts—Railroad anxiously demanded—Can be formed only by Government funds—Different interests amongst the colonists—Want of means of locomotion—Monotony of colonial life—Seasons in Southern hemisphere—Sunday Lessons seem inappropriate—Hot weather at Christmas—Trouble of cooking—St. Thomas seems out of place at Midsummer—An old-fashioned Christmas—Excitement caused by cow—Khourabene makes a well-timed visit—Boils plum-pudding—Khourabene's old master—Servants' wages paid in live-stock—Temporary prosperity of colony—Reminiscences of hard-work and poverty—Listening for coach-wheels—Grinding flour by hand—Colonial-made steam-engine—Weddings and "traps"—More luxuries and less comfort—Shepherds and March-winds—Gin in the sheepfold—Shepherdesses—Spears in thatch—Poisoned sheep—Bringing home pigs—Gentleness necessary in tending sheep—Anecdote of little swineherd.Page 107
Length of summer and winter—Rapid change of weather—Bull-frog—Perplexing sounds—Healthiness of hot weather—No palliatives to heat except sea-breeze—Flies—Ants—Housekeeping difficulties—Fleas—Flowers—Raspberry-jam blossoms—Cow-keeping—Goats and Sabbatarianism—Churning—Scarcity of cheese—Cow-tenting—Bells and herd attractive to cow—Sameness of diet—Australian mutton tastes differently to English mutton—Bunbury beef—Pink everlastings—Road making and mending—"Governor Hampton's cheeses"—Horses and foals—Colonial gates—Aptness of horses to stray—Horse hunting—Obliged to hobble our horse—Horse gets rid of side-saddle—"Gum-suckers"—Headlong riders—Eating a dolghite—Description of one—Evergreen trees—Clearness of atmosphere—"Choosing frocks out of the sky"—Southern Cross—Thunder-storms—Chimney struck—Twisted trees do not attract lightning—Suitability of climate to consumptive patients—Peculiarities of climate—Bishop Salvado's opinion of it. … Page 149
WHEREIN NATURAL HISTORY MERGES INTO AN ACCOUNT OF SCARCITY OF WATER.
Parroquets—Twenty-eights—Rosella parroquets in pomegranate-tree—Native brings Rosella nestling—Love of pancakes—Wild Rosellas decoy away my tame one—Supposed single specimen of parrot—Crows—Silver Tongue—Wagtails and swallows—Bell-bird— Cockatoos—Swans—Cockatoo broth—Startled in the dark—A thankless offer—Kylies used in killing birds—Painting a kylie—Bronze-winged pigeons—Ngowa—Method in which Ngowa prepares nest—Rare birds driven into inhabited districts by want of water—We lose turkey—Painted snipe—Cat's tribute to fidelity of artist—Cinnamon-coloured heron—Moths and other marauders—Fish called Coblers—Snappers and mullet—Crawfish—Fresh-water turtles—Frying turtle-eggs proves a bad experiment—Affectionate disposition of aborigines—Wild ducks—Khourabene's complacency at a well-filled bag—Game laws—"Father and mother, I must hook it away!"—Strong feeling of ownership with respect to land on part of natives—Metempsychosis—Forest laws less severe amongst Australians than amongst ancient Normans—Accumulation of water in consequence of felling timber—Amends made by white man—Corobberies—Mortality and early deaths amongst natives—Bishop Salvado's way of dispersing combatants—His remonstrances produce no effect with native husbands—Drought—Want of tanks—Floods—Swollen river renders farm-yard impassable—Washing on river bank—Inconvenience of distant wells—Temptations to gossip at wells—Anecdote of encamping at night without water—Enthusiastic welcome of boy and pony—Custom capable of sweetening brackish water. … Page 216
Winter a favourable time for exploring parties—Explorers turn back for want of water—Second expedition—Excitement at setting out—School copies—Second disappointment—Wild puppies give great umbrage—Bushrangers—Impassable bush serves as prison wall—Fire-arms indispensable to bushrangers—Fatal occurrences—Native trackers—Chain-gang—Conditional pardons—Fact of having been in Western Australia suppressed by immigrants in Adelaide—Tale of escape—Discontent of ticket-of-leave men on cessation of conditional pardons—An oppressive state of law—Truck system—Anecdote of shoemaker—Benevolent master—Tendency of truck system to destroy gratitude—Archdeacon Paley's opinion of paying ready money—Girl thinks it high time bucket should be worn out—Reckless expenditure of wages—Savings' bank discouraged, and why—French convict saves money—Barter—Paying one's creditor with eggs—Dressmaker paid with melons and almonds—Hospital admission—Nursing the sick—Presents to patients forbidden—Hospital orderlies—Dentists—French Colonel—Ophthalmia—"Bunged" eyes—Squints—Measles and hooping-cough—Mortality from measles amongst natives—A "corporal act of mercy"—Native hops and tea—Holloway's pills—Woman severely burnt—Broken leg—Dislocated hip—Answer to coo-ee—Finding of human bones—Lost child—Discovery of relics—Reasons for easily losing one's way in bush—Anecdotes of Irish neighbour and the poor maid-servant—We spend a night out of doors—Silence of bush at night—A perplexing adventure—Horse brought back by Khourabene—A "dropped hip"—We are thrown out of cart and feel injured by horse's indifference to what has happened—Traces repaired with knitting-cotton. … Page 235
Names upon shore-line of West Australia in three different languages—Legend of Great Java—Spanish admiral invents name of Australia—Pioneers of West Australia exclusively Dutch—Discovery of Swan River—Finding of inscription on Dirk Hartog's Island—Dampier's shark—M. de Bougainville—Reasons of Admiral D'Entrecasteax's voyage being undertaken—Captain Baudin's ideas about names—Tale invented by colonial John Bull—Naturalists lose their way—Captain Baudin's inhumanity—Pewter plate carried to Paris—Captain Stirling sails to Swan River—His favourable reports of it—Cockburn Sound—Garden Island—Plans for colonization—No convicts to be admitted—Large grants of land—Deplorable condition of first immigrants—Scurvy—Early cutting of cabbages—Governor Stirling's activity—Unsuitability of goods and furniture—Travelling carriages turned to good account—Deal packing-cases found useful—Harp re-shipped—Tents blow loose in windy weather—Boys fasten ropes—Vessel on sand-bank—Boat capsized—Merits of twins not recognized by Colonial Government—Australind projected—Repetition of disappointment—Western Australia acquires a bad name—Discovery of mineral districts. … Page 300
Schools on the Irish system—Roman Catholic schools—Schoolmasters—Scholastic squabbles—Convict tutors—Difficulties to educated convicts in earning livelihood—Festival of the Barladong Fair—Want of recreation—Silver mugs—Popular entertainment—"Paddle your own canoe"—Natives attracted to fair—Different costumes—Glass spears—Fights occasioned by betrothal and polygamy—Native laws respecting marriages—Sheep-shearers interrupted at dinner—Pitched battle in barley-field—Holding beard between teeth—Æsop's donkey—Khourabene in position of Mr. Swiveller—Khourabene brings home wife—Legacy of brother's widow—Khourabene's past history as married man—His escape from policeman—Finaly acquitted—Reasons for contracting additional marriage—First wife deputes making of dampers to second wife—Ladies' quarrels—Khourabene and his wives—Khourabene an outlaw—His aunt's lamentations. … Page 354
Appendix … 411